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Imported US Tesla - What works, what doesn't? Due to the price difference, we are considering exporting a used Model 3 from US to Japan

Hi all,
I searched but couldn't find information about this.
My wife and I live in both the US and Japan. It's a long story, but she loves Japan too much to leave permanently and I love the US too much to leave permanently and we love each other too much to live apart permanently, so I made a stupid financial decision and bought houses in both countries, got her a green card and me a 永住権 and we are doing our best to have the "best of both worlds".

While in Japan, we did everything we could to prepare for being in the US. I put a deposit down on a Model Y, saved money for a down payment on a house and set up all our online accounts and banking to be automated so that we don't have to transfer money to Japan or worry about mortgage payments being late.

Now, we've had our Model Y since December and my wife doesn't want to commute in Japan with our boring Aqua anymore. I too would feel more at ease if she were behind the wheel of a Tesla. I pushed hard at our mansion's board meeting to get them to "modernize" and install EV chargers and we will now have two DC chargers at our building and we hope to take advantage of it.

Unfortunately, since I no longer work for a Japanese company, I won't qualify for financing in Japan. On top of that, I know there will be tax disadvantages to transferring $50k to $60k to Japan to buy a car there, so my consideration is to purchase a used Model 3 here and ship it over. The price delta between the US and Japan is so huge that even after import fees, a US Tesla is still considerably cheaper. I also have a bank I work with that has agreed to giving me "non title lien" car loans for up to $75k. This means the entire title would be under my name.

My main concerns are:
  • Has anyone here opened up the infotainment to swap out the sim card to keep connectivity?
  • Does standard Autopilot work? Not FSD or EAP/NAP but just the standard lane keeping assist?
  • I understand it will be a gray market car, but if the sim card is swapped, do updates start working again?
  • Is there anything else we should consider?
Thank you for the help!
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Reactions: hiroshiy
@Beerimar, welcome to the forum!
I'm not an expert here, but I know only a few who imported US Teslas in Japan. There are a few issues with your plan.
- The cellular modem is different in Japan (we need the ROW version), so if you can swap the modem and replace the SIM card, the car can connect to the network
- The car has US VIN, so the software and map updates will be US versions only. Unfortunately, this means the navigation software is unusable.
- The Tesla service centers do not honor non-Japanese cars (same policy as in other territories).
- You can supercharge.
- The biggest: the car needs to be registered in Japan, but the US cars don't fulfill Japanese regulations (EU cars mostly do), so you need to find somebody to modify the car if you are a civilian. (US Military cars are an exception).

Thus I strongly recommend you search for a Japanese used Tesla!
It looks like Japanese used Teslas are cheaper... No?
Note that the range figure is different from the US. EPA is used in the US, but we use WLTP and Kokudo-Kotsusho-Shinsachi 国土交通省審査値 which is generally called WLTC in Japan.
The government requested all car manufacturers to use WLTC, which is used only in Japan, rather than the global standard WLTP.